Why are there so many different eggs with special designations? What's the difference between organic, free-run, free-range, Omega 3, nest laid and the cheapest brand on the shelf? Which should you buy for your family and why?
Conventional eggs, are usually the most economical choice and are laid by hens housed in enclosures that also serve as nesting space. Commercial chicken sheds often house between 40,000 to 60,000 birds. These hens are fed inexpensive feed such as fish meal, corn and soy which have the potential to cause allergic reactions in people due to the presence of foreign proteins.
Cage-free eggs are laid by hens that roam in a building, room or open area that includes shared nest space and perches. While these hens are not caged, roaming space may be limited and is almost always indoors. Cage-free hens are usually fed the same cost effective feed as conventional birds.
Free-range eggs come from hens who are free to roam outdoors. In addition to eating grains (source often not labeled and could be GMO or chemically treated), these hens are able to forage for plants (which may or may not have been treated) and insects.
Certified organic eggs are laid by cage-free, free-rage hens raised on organic feed that has not been treated by herbicides, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Organic farms are regularly audited by third party inspectors to ensure they are meeting or exceeding the Organic standard. Look for the Canada Organic logo to be sure it's certified organic.
Pasture-raised eggs are from hens who roam freely on pasture land, feeding on plants and insects, supplemented with feed (ideally organic) when required. The USDA does not yet recognize this labeling term and therefore, no standards currently exist.
Omega-3 enriched eggs are laid by hens often in commercial grade confinement, fed a special diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seeds and fish oil. Depending on the brand, these eggs typically contain 100 to 300 milligrams of omega-3's per egg where as a conventional egg contains about 50 milligrams.
Farm Table sources locally organically raised and certified organic eggs from the best local farms. The hens are free to roam outdoors freely when they want, they scratch and peck to find their natural diet (grass and bugs) and are offered organic feed as a supplement. These practises yield dark yolks full of vitamins, minerals and good fats, you can even see the difference. Check out the Farm Store to get your eggs as soon as they are available.
Bonus fun fact:
Brown eggs are from hens with red ear lobes. Hens with white ear lobes lay white eggs. The color of the shell has nothing to do with its nutritional value.
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